JOHNNY GRIFFIN, the diminutive Windy City-born tenor saxophone player who was nicknamed the ‘Little Giant’ died suddenly at his home in the village of Mauprevoir, France, on Friday 25th July. He was 80. Born in Chicago in 1928, Griffin – whose rapid-fingered hard bop style earned him the title ‘the fastest saxophone player in the west’ – rose to fame in the ranks of Lionel Hampton’s band in the 1940s. In 1957 he recorded a famous album for Blue Note alongside fellow tenor sax titans John Coltrane and Hank Mobley called ‘A Blowing Session.’ After spending some time with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the late-’50s, Griffin decamped to France in the 1960s, where he stayed until his death. In May this year, Griffin celebrated his eightieth birthday by performing two concerts at Ronnie Scott’s in London.